Planning Your Video Production 1 - Introduction
This is the first part of a five part advice document that provides background information on video pre-production.
Although these advice documents may be useful if you are involved in filming a single activity (e.g. a lecture or interview), they are primarily aimed at those developing more complex projects. For basic guides to filming, please follow the links to related advice on the right.
1.0 Introduction to planning
A goal without a plan is just a wish - Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
Whether you are producing a video yourself or employing an external supplier; to support your teaching, provide information, or as part of a research project - the process can be time-consuming and potentially very expensive. The normal course of a production tends to separate into three discrete phases: pre-production (or planning), production (or filming) and post production (or editing). The phases which incur the greatest costs are normally production and post production. Because these stages employ most of the physical resources used in a project (travel, recording media, equipment, personnel) it is important to manage these resources and the risks involved as efficiently as possible - and to do that you need to plan carefully.
Planning a video production is much like planning any other activity that requires a degree of forethought. For convenience the structure of this document has been developed from the current iteration of PRojects IN Controlled Environments project management methodology (PRINCE2) and uses standard PRINCE2 terminology where appropriate.
During the planning phase you will need to consider:
- How you will use video to its best advantage
- How the video will fit within your teaching/research programme
- How you will manage accessibility
- What you aim to achieve, what problems the video needs to solve
- Your videos’ structure and style
- Your budget, deadlines and third party resources
- Who will ‘sign off’ your video and how will this be achieved
- Monitoring and evaluating your production
1.1 Before you start
At the start of your project you should reflect on what video can do and how your production will fit into your planned activity. You will need to consider your users' needs and how you will meet them. It is also important that you have the institutional backing you need, that key stakeholders are supportive, and that you have sufficient resources. If you can, share your ideas with others who have knowledge of the topic and, if you are new to video, discuss your project with someone who has proven technical knowledge of video production.
1.1.1 Why video?
Video can be a very effective storytelling medium, it provides an unrivalled, vivid, view of the world, and, if well designed, has many characteristics that support learning and research. Summarising information from ‘real life’ in text often results in over-simplification - video can provide a better visualisation, recognition and identification by the viewer and produce a much more complex description.
People empathise with stories that convey emotion and provide ‘real life’ examples with which viewers can identify (Singer et al, 2004). As a visual medium that lends itself well to linear narrative, video works best when telling stories where pictures take the lead. In productions that include the spoken word viewers prefer and empathise more readily with conversational language that is readily understood (Nass and Reeves, 1996). Video works less well when presenting detailed numerical data or complex narration containing conditional clauses and difficult words.
So, before setting out to produce your video you should ask yourself, ‘do I really need a video?’. Consider alternatives (e.g. a poster, text file or interactive web object) and other learning objects that are already available which may produce better results.
1.1.2 Video Pedagogy
A full description of the pedagogical issues associated with video production is beyond the scope of this document. However, any production - whether it is supporting teaching, providing information, or promoting your research - will involve consideration of the structure of the video itself along with the context and tasks associated with its use – all of which will impact on the content of your finished video.
Designing the structure of your video requires reflection on the images and sounds required and the order and context in which they are presented. How to devise a pedagogically effective screenplay will be discussed in Define and analyse your production, but it is advisable to reflect early in the process on how to extract the most value from your video and consider the learning environment your video will reside in. A useful guide to this process is provided by Atkinson and Burden's (2009) Dial-e Framework. Developed to provide sound pedagogic guidance on creating learning objects that use video content, the Framework encourages consideration of context, learners’ roles, content, learning outcomes, activity, feedback and re-usability.
Having decided to go ahead with your production the next stage is to define and analyse your production and produce the documentation that will guide you through the production process.
Burden, K., and Atkinson, S. (2008). Beyond Content: Developing Transferable Learning Designs with Digital Video Archives. University of Hull, UK. (Online) Available at: http://www.sijen.com/reproduce/resource/beyond_content.pdf
[Accessed 5 August 2010]
JISC Advance (2009). Project Management InfoKit. Nothumbria University, UK. (Online) Available at: http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/infokits/project-management/planning [Accessed 10 May 2011]
JISC (2010). Project Management Methodologies - Agile and Prince2. (Online) Available at: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/events/2010/07/jif10/virtualgoodybag/projectmanagement.aspx [Accessed 10 May 2011]
Nass, C. & Reeves, B. (1996). The media equation: How people treat computers, television, and new media like real people and places. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Office of Government Commerce (2009). Managing successful projects with PRINCE2 (5th ed.). The Stationery Office. pp. 342. ISBN 978-0113310593
Singer T., Seymour B., O'Doherty J., Kaube H., Dolan R. J., Frith C. D. (2004). Empathy for Pain Involves the Affective but not Sensory Components of Pain. Science Vol. 303 no. 5661 pp. 1157-1162 (Online) Available at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/303/5661/1157.short [Accessed 20 April 2012]